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Anemia in Pregnancy

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Treatment for Anemia

If you are anemic during your pregnancy, you may need to start taking an iron supplement and/or folic acid supplement in addition to your prenatal vitamins. Your doctor may also suggest that you add more foods that are high in iron and folic acid to your diet.

In addition, you'll be asked to return for another blood test after a specific period of time so your doctor can check that your hemoglobin and hematocrit levels are improving.

To treat vitamin B12 deficiency, your doctor may recommend that you take a vitamin B12 supplement.

The doctor may also recommend that you include more animal foods in your diet, such as:

  • meat
  • eggs
  • dairy products

Your OB may refer you to a hematologist, a doctor who specializes in anemia/ blood issues. These specialist may see you throughout the pregnancy and help your OB manage the anemia.

Preventing Anemia

To prevent anemia during pregnancy, make sure you get enough iron. Eat well-balanced meals and add more foods that are high in iron to your diet.

Aim for at least three servings a day of iron-rich foods, such as:

  • lean red meat, poultry, and fish
  • leafy, dark green vegetables (such as spinach, broccoli, and kale)
  • iron-enriched cereals and grains
  • beans, lentils, and tofu
  • nuts and seeds
  • eggs

Foods that are high in vitamin C can help your body absorb more iron. These include:

  • citrus fruits and juices
  • strawberries
  • kiwis
  • tomatoes
  • bell peppers

Try eating those foods at the same time that you eat iron-rich foods. For example, you could drink a glass of orange juice and eat an iron-fortified cereal for breakfast.

Also, choose foods that are high in folic acid to help prevent folate deficiency. These include:

  • leafy green vegetables
  • citrus fruits and juices
  • fortified breads and cereals
  • dried beans

Follow your doctor's instructions for taking a prenatal vitamin that contains a sufficient amount of iron and folic acid.

Vegetarians and vegans should talk with their doctor about whether they should take a vitamin B12 supplement when they're pregnant and breastfeeding.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD, FACOG on July 05, 2014
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